Marquez Handed Time Penalty For Free Practice Crash

Marc Marquez' Moto2 championship assault has just suffered a major setback. The Catalunya Caixa rider has been punished for an incident after FP1 at Phillip Island ended, and will start Sunday's Moto2 race from the back of the grid.

The incident occurred at the end of the first session of free practice for Moto2 for the Australian Grand Prix. After a crash early in the session, which saw him stuck in the pits for most of practice, Marquez was sent back out onto the track with about a minute to go in the session. He set out on a hot lap, but did not make it all the way round in time to get in a second lap. He continued around the first two corners at high speed, and at Turn 3, ran into the back of Ratthapark Wilairot, who was slowing down again after a practice start. The speed differential between Marquez and Wilairot meant the crash was a big one, the Spaniard lucky to walk away with just a cut on his brow, while Wilairot was airlifted to the local hospital, where scans revealed that despite injuries to his leg and back, he had no broken bones.

The crash was costly in two ways for Marquez. Firstly, he was punished by Race Direction for dangerous riding, and handed a one-minute time penalty to be added to his qualifying time on Saturday, leaving him to start from the back of the grid. His team appealed against the penalty, saying that Marquez had not seen the Thai rider, but the FIM stewards upheld the ruling. But the crash also cost Marquez his bike: the 2012 Suter chassis which Marquez had been using since Aragon - of which he had just one - was written off in the crash, damaged so badly that repair is almost impossible. The Spaniard will be forced to use an older 2011 chassis; though Marquez was already quick on the older bike, the newer chassis offered some significant improvements.

The penalty led to much discussion both inside and outside the paddock, with opinion split over whether the penalty was too harsh or too light. Whatever time Marquez sets during qualifying, having a minute added to it means that he will always be starting from the back of the grid, with the other 38 entries starting ahead of him. Marquez will still have to set a lap within the 107% qualifying limit, however, though the extra minute added to his QP time will be added after it is measured against the 107% limit rather than before. The rule under which Marquez was punished allows a number of punishments, including a time penalty, ride through, fine, loss of championship points or suspension. Both a ride through or loss of points are not appropriate in such a case, as these are usually only applied to incidents which occur during the race. Some in the paddock felt that a suspension was in order, pointing to the example of John Hopkins at Motegi in 2003, while others pointed out that a minute was an excessive time penalty, especially as anything over the 107% mark (for Moto2, just under 7 seconds) is essentially meaningless. And the objection to imposing a fine is that this is something that Marquez' team, the richest in the paddock, could easily afford and it could set a precedent, punishing poorer teams disproportionately.

Below is the official press release containing the decision of Race Direction:

2011 FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix

Iveco Australian Grand Prix: decision of the Race Direction

On Friday 14th october after passing the chequered flag at the end of the 1st Free Practice rider Marc Márquez (SPA) rode in an irresponsible manner, causing danger to rider Ratthapark Wilairot (THA) which is an infringement to the Art. 1.21.2 of the 2011 FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations. The Race Direction has decided to impose a time penalty of 1 minute to be added to the qualification time of Marc Márquez.

An appeal has been lodged.

The FIM Stewards have confirmed the decision of the Race Direction.

The decision of the FIM Stewards is final.

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There was no way he would have made it through on a fast lap after the checkered flag while everybody else is on a cool down lap or could even be stopped on the track practicing starts.
Silly nonsense, very disappointing and very unexpected, I see Marquez as a very different class of rider that say, Josh Brookes (I won't forget his accident with Guintoli on a sighting lap).

I am really surprised that Wilairot did not sustain any broken bones, he will definitely have a sore neck for a while.

Interesting situation Marquez just put himself into... Starting from the back of the grid with an old bike, definitely puts the championship into a full spin! Maybe Bradl can get back a good handful of points.

The collision looks bad....I had falls on my motorcycles, and watching the replay, Wilairot's backlash made me cringe.

Hope he gets well soon...he's our sole Moto2 representative from South East Asia.

I was stunned watching the tail end of the live feed on last night (in my part of the world) as Marquez slammed his bike into Wilairot's, but at the time I couldn't make out if Marquez was still on his 1st lap back out on the track having just left the pits or if he had already done that lap and passed through the start/finish after the flag was waved. Knowing now that it was the latter I have to wonder (a) what was he thinking by keeping his speed up that long after riding under the flag, and (b) why did his team send him out there in the 1st place if he didn't even have the time to get in one full lap at speed? On both counts Marquez', and maybe the team's, actions seem unbelievably reckless. Though the damage done by the penalty assessed to Marquez may turn out to be great the damage sustained by Wilairot was completely avoidable it seems.

Really unimpressed. He did something very dangerous at a time were it did make no sense at all. He was lucky twice. First to walk away un-injured and also to have avoided a much expected suspension (as happened in the past).
I think I will be siding Bradl from now on!

If there ever was a boost to Bradl's title hopes this is it. He needs to take full advantage and score as many points as possible. Marquez will be doing everything he can to save face. This isn't the first time he's had to start from the back of the grid, and the last time he did he won.

I'm totally rooting for the Stephan. He's had a great season, and on the Kalex bike no less. No denying Marquez's talent, he's the real deal, but there's no denying the mountain of money helping him out either...

Should be an awesome race, as is par for the course in Moto2.

For a brainless error that could have been prevented by 5 sec of clear thought before he even left the pits. There was no possible way to get in a fast lap but him and the team seemed determined to do so. This was so much more avoidable than Hopkins' 2003 race accident that resulted in a suspension.

Marquez is very lucky that neither rider was seriously injured. I cringe to think how Wilairot's neck is going to feel tomorrow.


It was a brutal hit and he didn't seem to slow at all. I think the penalty could easily have been worse and still hard to argue against. This penalty is clear that it puts his championship lead in clear jeopardy. Good.

Leaving the pits with 55 seconds left in the session and riding fast is a mistake on several levels of the squad, but to just fly into that corner and barely slow makes me wonder if he has a concussion from the earlier crash that is clouding his thinking. This wasn't a case of ambition outweighing his talent, but just thoughtlessness.

I used the word Cringe in my post above....and I'm glad I was not the only one to feel the same.

. . . . considering some of the penalties handed out in the past over the last decade or so. This is quite a ridiculous penalty in my view. Marquez was completely reckless in his actions and he's damn lucky that Ratthapark Wilairot is not dead or much more seriously injured than he appears to be.

At the very least he should have been suspended for at least the PI race, if not for the rest of the season. Complete disregard for the safety of the other riders needs to dealt with harshly. This wasn't a small mistake, this was felony stupid!

If you watch the slow motion portion of the video, you can see that Marquez sees the bikes in front, rolls off the throttle, puts his hand over the front brake but doesn't squeeze. It's as if he thought he would ride around the outside. Who knows what he was thinking, but Race Direction didn't buy the team's explanation that he didn't see the other bikes, which was clearly not the case here.

Poor Ratthapark, he's had a hell of a tough year, losing his father late last year, then having a near fatal street crash himself, in which his best friend died, then this. Hope he's ok.

I'm not ready to jump on the marquez hating bandwagon just yet, yes he had a brain fade and in part his team didnt help by trying to get him to do something he could never hope to do, but Ultimately it comes down to a split second decision and he made the wrong one, i'm just glad no one was seriously injured. Im sure he's learnt his lesson, this mistake could well cost him the championship.

On a different note i wonder how long it will be before marquez gets another 2012 chassis... and how much complaining the other teams will do when he gets it.

Maybe with enough cash they can have some of the other '12 Suters, at least Redding has one.

For me it is still a bit hard to understand how he could crash on to another rider like that.

If you look at the times from FP2 then adding a minute to Marquez' time moves him from 17th to 27th, which is way down but still at least 3 rows from the back. If you imagine that tomorrow he manages to get the bike set up right and does a time like De Angelis did in FP2 then he'd be 19th, nowhere near the back of the grid.

For that reason I think the penalty is a bit light. Obviously they aren't going to disqualify a Spanish champion elect at this stage of the season but they probably should and they definitely should make him start from the last row on his own.

I just now seen the crash and I'm not buying the teams explanation at all. When cornering racers don't look in front of them but well ahead. Maybe he didn't have time to move to a outside line but there was no reason to be going that fast at that point anyway. He wasn't gonna pull into the pits and magically have the knowledge to set up his bike to be on pole just from that one lap. That being said I think the punishment was proper possibly a little light. I wouldn't have been upset if they had also added a fine. I'm a Marquez fan but am not dismissing his actions and know full well he may have cost himself the title.

... he had his head down across the line and didn't see the flag? There seems no rational reason to still be going hard at that point... or did he or the team really think he was going to collect useful data in the extra 3/4 lap?

In the first case the penalty seems about right. In the second, it should have been suspension imho... but since no one can prove what was the intention behind the act, race direction and the stewards probably got it right.

Aside: as an ex-Australian 2-stroke racer, I'd never do a practice start there: flat out through T3 after the flag was standard procedure for a plug chop before rolling into the pits at T4. However I don't think Marquez would ever have used that exit, so having a 125 flash-back isn't an explanation either.

He left the pits with less than 1 minute to go in the session, him and his team were well aware that it was not physically possible for him to get a proper flying lap after his out lap.
About Wilairot practice start, it was in one of the few parts of the track where it is authorized by race direction.

I've been to about 6 MotoGP events at PI and at everyone of them all three classes have used the exit of southern loop to do practice starts. In fact thats where Pedrosa flipped his bike a few years ago while attempting a practice start.

Different events do things differently.

he followed what he was told to do. the fact that it happened after the flag had dropped is the worst of it. we have all been young and therefore dumb, he just get to do it on the international stage, which does not make him a villain, it just makes him young, and there fore dumb.